NAURU, Nauru (Radio Australia/RNZI, Jan. 8) - The president of Nauru has been ousted in a vote of no confidence by the island nation’s parliament.

President Rene Harris has been replaced by former president and veteran politician Bernard Dowiyogo.

Once so rich from phosphate mining it was known as the "Kuwait of the South Pacific," Nauru is now so broke it cannot always afford petrol.

There has been unrest over Harris’s decision to help out Canberra by accepting more than 1,000 asylum seekers in return for increased aid.

Radio New Zealand International also reports that Nauru faces a constitutional crisis because of President Harris’ inability to govern the country after parliament defeated the government’s budget on New Year’s Eve.

An opposition MP, David Adeang, Wednesday called on President Harris to resign.

"During the past three months, President Harris has seen the defection to the opposition of two backbenchers, two Cabinet ministers and the Speaker."

Adeang adds President Harris has been responsible for the decline of Nauru from the wealthiest per capita in the Pacific to a level of poverty described by some as unseen since World War II.

President Harris has not been available for comment.

January 9, 2003

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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